Pre-Earnings Options Traders Switch Gears on BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY)

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) will report earnings tomorrow morning

by Karee Venema

Published on Jun 22, 2016 at 2:33 PM

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) will unveil its fiscal first-quarter earnings report bright and early tomorrow morning, and today, the smartphone maker is hosting its annual shareholders meeting. At the event, CEO John Chen said BBRY's "device business must be profitable," and that they've "got to get there this year." While BBRY stock is off 3.7% at $6.79 at last check, options traders are betting on even more losses post-earnings.

By the numbers, around 15,000 call options and 7,300 put options have changed hands on BBRY today -- nearly three times the average intraday pace. While a number of speculators appear to be selling to close their September 7 calls, a fresh batch of option bears look to be purchasing new positions at BBRY's weekly 6/24 7-strike put. By initiating new long positions here, the put buyers expect the equity to extend its retreat south of $7 by this Friday's close, when the weekly options expire.

Widening the sentiment scope reveals options traders have shown a distinct preference for calls over puts in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculative traders have bought to open 26,734 call options on BBRY, compared to 1,365 put options. What's more, the resultant 10-day call/put volume ratio of 19.59 sits just 4 percentage points from a 52-week peak.

Drilling down, BBRY's August 8 call has seen the biggest rise in open interest over this time frame, with 21,625 contracts added. This out-of-the-money call is now second only to the January 2017 8-strike call for BBRY's top open interest position, with 38,272 contracts currently in residence. It looks like most of this action has been of the buy-to-open kind, too, meaning options traders are eyeing a move north of $8 by the close on Friday, Aug. 19 -- when back-month options expire.

With a healthy 11.5% of BBRY's available float sold short, though, a portion of this call buying could be at the hands of short sellers hedging against any upside risk. Regardless, now appears to be an opportune time to purchase premium on the security's near-term options. Even with earnings on the immediate horizon, BBRY's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 48% ranks lower than 70% of all comparable readings taken in the past year, meaning volatility expectations are relatively low at the moment.

Technically, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) has shed roughly 28% since hitting an annual high of $9.46 in late December. More recently, a rally attempt earlier this month was quickly halted by BBRY's 50-week moving average -- a trendline that also contained the stock in March.

BBRY weekly chart

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